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Wearables limited by fragmented Android Bluetooth support

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Magellan Echo
Magellan says Android remains a struggle for wearables makers

Android fragmentation issues have surfaced once again, with sports watch maker Magellan suggesting wearables support for Android is being limited by the platform’s inconsistent Bluetooth standards.

With a number of third-party wearable devices, such as the Magellan Echo, now making use of Bluetooth Low Energy standards, the manufacturer has claimed that Android’s fragmented nature means it is harder to ensure device support for the leading mobile OS.

“The biggest comment we’ve had in terms of negativity on the product has been around Android support which we are working on right now,” Clark Weber, Magellan’s Senior Director of Wearable Technology said of the Echo sports watch.

Currently Echo works just on iOS and that’s a limitation of Bluetooth Low Energy implementation. It’s been much harder to get that through on Android.

Speaking exclusively with TrustedReviews he added: “First it requires Android 4.3 or higher, which is still only about 10 per cent of handsets, and then Android gets a little bit more complicated because the Bluetooth implementation varies by handset.

“From a testing perspective Android has been a lot tougher.”

Despite the restrictions and annoyances, Weber has insisted that “Android support is a number one priority,” for Magellan, although he believes this fragmentation is detrimental to manufacturers and consumers alike.

Android wearables support will not be overarching either. The Magellan director has suggested only flagship phones will be priorities by peripheral manufacturers.

“It will be limited to the flagship phones at first,” he said. “Any phone that has been launched from 2013 onwards should be ok.”

While Android support is a priority for Magellan and other wearables manufacturers, the company has suggested Windows Phone compatibility is not a key focus.

“No consumers have asked for it,” Weber told us. “Windows Phone is something that we are looking in to but it isn’t our top priority.”

He added: “Getting Android on board with its numbers is obviously more important but I think Windows Phone is going to be something that we will keep track of.”

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